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Stars shying away from World Cup

Issac Baldizon/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE BEN Simmons begs off from competing for Australia in the FIBA Basketball World Cup.

One by one, National Basketball Association superstars are declining to participate in the FIBA Basketball World Cup from 25 August to 10 September.

Brooklyn Nets guard Ben Simmons became the latest NBA player to withdraw, saying that he can’t play for Australia as he is still nursing a back injury.

The Boomers will be playing the preliminaries in Okinawa where they will face host Japan, Germany and Finland, which is fresh from an 89-85 win over Gilas Pilipinas in a friendly match in Estonia.

“Ben needs more time to focus on his rehab and he looks forward to being part of the Boomers in the future,” Basketball Australia said in a social media post.

“We wish Ben all the best in his recovery.”

Japan is also being bothered by personnel shortage.

Its biggest export to the NBA in Rui Hachimura also begged off as he wants to rest following a grueling campaign with the Los Angeles Lakers the past season while focusing on his options in the free agency.

“I have made the decision to withdraw from this year’s FIBA World Cup,” Hachimura said through the Japan Basketball Association.

“It was a very difficult decision, but after the last season stretching into the Playoffs, I decided to prioritize my future in the NBA and prepare for my first free agency.”

“In addition, I will focus on working this summer to prepare for the next season.”

Powerhouse Greece, France and, of course, the United States will also compete without some of their brightest stars.

The Greeks, for one, is expected to miss the services of Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks due to leg injury while Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers and top overall pick Victor Wembanyama of the San Antonio Spurs will be skipping the French campaign.

Reports have it that Antetokounmpo is dealing with a leg injury, prompting him to skip the prestigious 32-nation tournament.

Embiid is also not expected to make his World Cup debut for France after becoming a naturalized French citizen last year while Wembanyama opted to participate in the NBA Summer League and focus on preparing for his upcoming rookie season.

“Not this year. We don’t know. It’s up to him to decide. We await his decision and are hopeful,” France coach Vincent Collet said, referring to the status of Embiid.

But the United States has the most number of withdrawals after stars like Kevin Durant and Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns, LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers and James Harden of the Philadelphia 76ers have all begged off.

The Americans, the five-time World Cup champions, will be playing at the Mall of Asia Arena together with Greece, New Zealand and Jordan.

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